To recap for those who don’t professionally obsess over every 1989-related news item, Swift recently pulled all her music from Spotify. The streaming music provider’s CEO wrote a long blog post suggesting she would earn $6 million a year from the service. Her label said it actually received less than $500,000 for U.S. streams of Swift’s music in the last 12 months; Spotify said the payout globally for Swift streaming (not to be confused with Swift boating) was $2 million.
Grohl, whose Foo Fighters released their new album Sonic Highways this week, was asked about the debate in an interview with U.K. site Digital Spy. His answer — that he just wants people to hear his songs, regardless of the price, and that bands should focus on playing live — captures the down-to-earth bluntness that is central to his appeal, but also the somewhat-blindered nostalgia that, as our contributor Eric Harvey observed, occasionally has hampered Foo Fighters’ current HBO series.
“Me personally?” Grohl’s quoted as saying of Swift and Spotify. “I don’t fucking care. That’s just me, because I’m playing two nights at Wembley [in London] next summer. I want people to hear our music, I don’t care if you pay $1 or fucking $20 for it, just listen to the fucking song. But I can understand how other people would object to that.”
He went on to emphasize the importance of playing live. “You want people to fucking listen to your music?” he said. “Give them your music. And then go play a show. They like hearing your music? They’ll go see a show. To me it’s that simple, and I think it used to work that way. When we were young and in really noisy, crappy punk rock bands there was no career opportunity and we loved doing it and people loved fucking watching it and the delivery was completely face to face and personal. That’s what got people really excited about shit. Nowadays there’s so much focus on technology that it doesn’t really matter.”
Live shows can be crucial to any recording act, of course — for what it’s worth, concert giant Live Nation just reported another climb in revenue — and it’s refreshing to hear someone shrug off the whole endless streaming discussion. Still, technology was always inescapable, and it just happens to be different now from what it was in the ’80s or ’90s. Even bands with great live shows can create word of mouth online, rather than through old networks; Future Islands are proof of the power of that old-fashioned technology, TV, paired with the internet. And what about bedroom electronic producers, rappers or pop singers whose music might be better suited to a recording than a live setting?
Furthermore, in light of what Harvey noted was a lack of female musicians in the HBO show, it’s worth noting that Grimes and others have pointed out women face a different set of concerns on the touring circuit; Grohl might’ve felt comfortable crashing on couches nationwide in those “crappy punk rock” days, but others might understandably balk.
Oh well, though; it’s all just Grohl being Grohl (and in a passing quote with little context, at that). He’s also someone who’ll play a show for fans who started a crowdsource campaign trying to get Foo Fighters to their town — and, maybe you’ve heard, he was the drummer for a band called Nirvana? — so you have to take the occasionally old-school outlook with the magnanimous rock nerdery.
All that said, bear in mind that Sonic Highways looks likely to debut at No. 2 on next week’s album chart, according to Yahoo Music, behind only — you guessed it — Swift’s 1989.
Be sure to read our contributor Harvey’s essays Taylor Swift’s Spotify Decision Means Nothing For Smaller Artists and Dave Grohl’s ‘Sonic Highways’ Is a Rock-Bro Vision Quest.